Last month Apple bought Swedish firm Polar Rose for around $22 million. Their speciality? Facial recognition software. Scientists at The University of Manchester have also been working on figuring out how to bring facial recognition to mobile devices, and the results are both impressive and shocking. Most mobile phones, even the iPhone 4 now, have a front facing camera. This has traditionally been used for video calls, and we all know how popular that feature has been, but what if you can use it to unlock your device? No more fumbling with pin codes, passwords, any of that nonsense, just a simple glance at your screen and boom, authorization granted. Think of how useful this will be in the future when your mobile phone will be your wallet. Instead of having to enter a secure pin code at the check out aisle of your local grocery store, you simply tap to pay, hold your phone in front of your face, and then you leave with your shopping bag full of frozen pizza, ice cream, and potato chips.
“Existing mobile face trackers give only an approximate position and scale of the face,” said Dr Phil Tresadern, lead researcher on the project. “Our model runs in real-time and accurately tracks a number of landmarks on and around the face such as the eyes, nose, mouth and jaw line. A mobile phone with a camera on the front captures a video of your face and tracks twenty-two facial features. This can make face recognition more accurate, and has great potential for novel ways of interacting with your phone.”
We’re not really sure we’d want to interact with our mobile phone by winking and turning our heads, but the added layer of security that this system can give us, because no one wants their mobile phone falling into the wrong hands and having their entire life be instantly available to stranger, is a huge added comfort.